Category: History

Did You Hear What Eddie Gein Done? by Eric Powell and Harold Schechter is Coming!

It seems that everyone has heard of Charles Manson, The Boston Strangler, Jack the Ripper, Ted Bundy, The BTK Killer, and other infamous psychos.  Not as many folks have heard of Ed Gein.  Gein is a true life wacko who inspired Psycho (the book and film), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and even The Silence of the Lambs (book and film).  Eric Powell is teaming with Harold Schechter to tell Ed Gein’s story.  Here’s the synopsis from Amazon:

One of the greats in the field of true crime literature, Harold Schechter (Deviant, The Serial Killer Files, Hell’s Princess), teams with five-time Eisner Award-winning graphic novelist Eric Powell (The Goon, Big Man Plans, Hillbilly) to bring you the tale of one of the most notoriously deranged serial killers in American history, Ed Gein.

Did You Hear What Eddie Gein Done? is an in-depth exploration of the Gein family and what led to the creation of the necrophile who haunted the dreams of 1950s America and inspired such films as Psycho, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Silence of the Lambs.

Painstakingly researched and illustrated, Schechter and Powell’s true crime graphic novel takes the Gein story out of the realms of exploitation and gives the reader a fact-based dramatization of these tragic, psychotic and heartbreaking events. Because, in this case, the truth needs no embellishment to be horrifying.

If this sounds like something you’d like, you can use this link to pre-order Did You Hear What Eddie Gein Done?

Here’s an interview with Eric Powell on the killer behind the monster in DID YOU HEAR WHAT EDDIE GEIN DONE?

“The Sons of Sam” Trailer is Here!

True life murder mystery documentaries are “in” now (have they ever been out?) and The Sons of Sams: A Descent into Darkness could be the next “must-see” one.  I’m old enough to remember when the Son of Sam murders gripped the country and relief when the killer was caught… but did he act alone?

A closed case is only the beginning. The Sons of Sam: A Descent Into Darkness is only on Netflix May 5.

The Son of Sam case grew into a lifelong obsession for journalist Maury Terry, who became convinced that the murders were linked to a satanic cult.

Pony Express – Facts You May Not Know!

When I was a kid Cowboys were king. Westerns dominated movie and television screens. Cowboys even regularly appeared in comic books. Kids loved tales of the West. There were so many heroes and we knew their names. Wyatt Earp, Doc Holiday, Bat Masterson, and Wild Bill Hickock just to name a few.

What’s interesting is that there was another group of real-life western heroes — Pony Express Riders. We all knew how they rode the mail across hostile country (weather, terrain and Indians) at breakneck speed, only stopping after they’d ridden dozens of mile and only after they had passed the mail on to the next rider.

Its interesting that what we think we knew about the Pony Express is often wrong.  Evan Andrews addresses this in post 10 Things You May Not Know About the Pony Express.  Before you click over, here are three of my favorites and my thoughts on each…

2. It was a financial flop.  (I really never thought about the financial aspect of running the Pony Express.  There’s the cost and upkeep of the horses.  Paying the riders as well as those that ran the relief stations and the cost of keeping them stocked.  Estimates run as high as $200,000.00 were lost for the investors behind the Pony Express. That translates to about $6.5 million today.  Keep in mind the Pony Express was only in operation for about one and a half years! That is another fact that blows many people’s minds. – Craig)

8. Riders didn’t have the deadliest job on the Pony Express. (I found this to be a surprising fact.  More relief station workers were killed than Pony Express Riders.  The relief stations were in remote locations and vulnerable to attacks by bandits and Indians at war.  – Craig)

7. One rider completed a 380-mile run in less than two days.  (Most Pony Express riders rode about 75 miles making horse changes along the way.  They would they pass off the mail and rest up for their next trip.  Robert “Pony Bob” Haslam had ridden his route but the next rider refused to take the mail on.  Paiute Indians had been attacking relief stations and the rider was afraid to head into their territory.  Haslam grabbed the mail, jumped on a fresh mount and completed the run!  After delivering the mail and a brief rest, Haslam completed the return trip, a total of 380 miles in less than 40 hours! – Craig)

“No Ordinary Man: The Billy Tipton Documentary” – The Poster and Trailer are Here!

Here we have the poster and trailer for No Ordinary Man: The Billy Tipton Documentary.

Billy Tipton was an American musician who played in jazz bands from the 1930s through 1950.  In 1951, he formed the Billy Tipton Trio (along with Dick O’Neil and Kenny Richards).  The trio’s popularity earned them a contract for two albums: Sweet Georgia Brown and Billy Tipton Plays Hi-Fi on Piano.  The records did well enough for a new four album contract, but surprisingly, Tipton declined the offer.  Tipton instead moved to Spokane, where he became a talent agent and performed occasionally.  Tipton retired from music in the late 1970s.

Over the years Tipton had several different woman who went under the title Mrs. Tipton, but the title was without legal standing since he didn’t marry any of them.  In the early 60s, Tipton and one of his “wives” adopted 3 sons.

In 1989, as paramedics worked to save Billy Tipton’s life, they discovered he was a female!   Sadly, the paramedics were unable to save Billy Tipton.

The story that Billy Tipton was actually a woman who lived life as a man undetected by his fellow musicians, his children and even his “wives” made national news.  In 1989, there was little discussion in the main stream media about transgender people, so Billy Tipton’s story was shocking.  Truth be told, it would probably still be considered shocking.  I remember when the story broke about Billy Tipton and I couldn’t understand how so many people close to Billy would have no idea of his secret.

For decades, the life of American Jazz musician, Billy Tipton, was framed as the story of an ambitious woman passing as a man in pursuit of a music career. In No Ordinary Man, Tipton’s story is re—imagined and performed by trans artists as they collectively paint a portrait of an unlikely hero. Together, the filmmakers join Tipton’s son, Billy Jr. to reckon with a complicated and contested legacy: how do you tell the story of someone who was hiding in plain sight yet desperate to be seen? On demand April 2nd.

RIP: Lou Ottens

It has just been announced that Lou Ottens has died at the age of 94.  If Mr. Ottens name doesn’t ring a bell, don’t fell bad.  Mr. Ottens wasn’t famous, but I promise if you’re a certain age, you’ll appreciate his invention because of the hours you spent with it and the enjoyment it brought you.

Mr. Ottens invited the first cassette tape!

Mr. Ottens wanted music to portable, assessable and affordable.  He succeeded on all counts.  I can remember how exited I was to get my first cassette player and blank tapes.  If you’re of a certain age, I’m sure you remember making mix tapes for different occasions and friends.  How cool was it to be able to take your music with you and play it anywhere?  Very cool.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Lou Ottens’ family, friends and fans.

Muhammad Ali: Kinshasa 1974 – “The Rumble in the Jungle”

Muhammad Ali: Kinshasa 1974 is a new graphic novel that combines the famous Abbas photographs with a story by writer JD Morvan and artist Rafael Ortiz that gives context to the pictures.  Abbas was in Kinshasa, Zaire to photograph the political unrest at the same time the famed Rumble in the Jungle fight between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman took place.  As things worked out Abbas was able to chronicle events leading up to an including the fight.

Muhammad Ali: Kinshasa 1974 is an interesting idea and looks like a well done book.  If you’d like to see more than the cover above and preview page below, click over to an interview with JD Morvan which provides more insight and preview pages.  If you’d like to order Muhammad Ali: Kinshasa 1974, it is available now.  (I will get a small percentage of each sale made using the link.)

Winston Churchill – The Things I Just Learned

I don’t know as much about Winston Churchill as I’d like.  Sure, I know he was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom during World War II, but aside from a few quotes and broad strokes about his life, I don’t know much else.  That’s why I found Carla Delgado’s 7 Fascinating Facts About Winston Churchill at Mental Floss very interesting.  Before you click over, here are my three favorites and my thoughts on each.

THE ABBREVIATION “OMG” WAS FIRST USED IN A LETTER TO WINSTON CHURCHILL.  I don’t know why I find this piece of trivia so appealing.  I guess because it is so random.  I wonder what possessed John Fisher to use the abbreviation. How did Churchill know what the letters stood for? (Context, I guess.) And why did it take so many decades for the abbreviation to catch on?  OMG – so many questions.

WINSTON CHURCHILL LIVED WITH A MENTAL ILLNESS.  Churchill suffered from “long periods of despair and lethargy” which some have diagnosed as bi-polar disorder.  I’m surprised at the high percentage of “great” people from history who had to overcome things that cripple others.  I guess that is part of what makes them great.

WINSTON CHURCHILL WAS AN HONORARY AMERICAN.  I didn’t know that Churchill’s mother was American and that he was granted honorary citizenship.  I like that fact a lot.  We can always use more good Americans.  ; )

“The Lost Pirate Kingdom” Trailer is Here!

The Lost Pirate Kingdom trailer is below.  Honestly, it doesn’t look great, but there is something about it that makes me want to see the documentary series.  I’m not sure why.  I’m not overly fond of Pirates.  I’ve seen the Johnny Depp movies (most of ’em, anyway… I think).  I guess it is the documentary aspect that appeals to me.  I want to know more about how pirates really were.

The real-life pirates of the Caribbean violently plunder the world’s riches and form a surprisingly egalitarian republic in this documentary series.

Craig’s Best of 2020: Novels, Movies and Blog Posts

End of the Year lists are fun and so I decided to compile a few of my own. I hope you enjoy them.

Movies

In 2020, I watched 453 movies. Most were streamed. I usually see a little over 200 movies per year so retirement and the pandemic helped increase my viewing. My favorite films released in 2020 included:

  • Arkansas: An under-rated, quirky crime drama.
  • Dracula: Technically a 3 part mini-series, but the first two episodes were near perfect and the third didn’t ruin the experience (but did fall off quite a bit).
  • Extraction: A surprisingly well done action film that had heart.
  • Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom: My favorite film of the year – the screenplay, acting and direction were top shelf. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom deserves a boatload of Oscars.Who’d have thought that two of my favorite films would star the Hemsworth brothers?

Books

In 2020, I read 34 books. I usually read about 20 – 24 per year so retirement and the pandemic also worked to increase my novel consumption. My favorites from this year included:

My Most Popular Posts of the Year

I always find some surprises in the most popular posts from the year. Here are the top ten for 2020 and some thoughts for each…

10. David Fincher’s “Mank” – The Poster and Trailer are Here! Fincher is always a fan favorite, and Mank’s poster and trailer were no exception.

09. Facts About Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery”. The popularity of this post surprises me since it deals with a short story, but horror is always a favorite subject with many of our readers.

08. Peter Stults’ “28 Days Later” Starring Richard Burton. I love that this remains a top post. Stults’ alternative movie posters are a blast. He chooses great stars to recast in cool movies.

07. Jack Benny in “Casablanca”. This one makes me smile. I love that it made the top ten.

06. Sly Stallone Starring in “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” Video! Sly Stallone makes the list!

05. TOP 10 MOST ICONIC HORROR MOVIE VILLAINS! I told you horror posts are popular.

04. Dracula Through the Ages. I wasn’t kidding. Horror posts are popular.

03. Jackie Daytona Commercial for “Lucky Brews Bar and Grill”! The popularity of this post surprised me. Sure, it has the horror connection, but mixed in is a great amount of humor. Add to that it is for an under-rated horror/comedy (that I hope you are watching) and we get our third most popular post of the year!

02. Louis Meyers: Evidence He Was the Zodiac Killer. Any post about the Zodiac Killer always get a lot of views. This one has even racked up the most comments. 

01. Schwarzenegger in “King Lear” & Robin Williams in “Jack and the Beanstalk”. This posts gets more hits than any other post on the site. It’s not horror, it’s not about a real life killer or Sly Stallone, but it is our #1 post again this year.

My All-Time Most Popular Posts

I thought it might be fun to close out with a look at our all-time most popular posts. Did any or most of 2020’s greatest hits make the all-time list? Let’s see…

10. The Life and Times of Deputy U.S. Marshall Bass Reeves. I’m glad that this post remains popular. Our post about Marshall Bass Reeves (a true life hero) went up years before a comic series and movie about him were made. Don’t you love it when we’re ahead of the curve?

09. Gadot & The Rock Strike a Pose. Of course two of the most popular movie stars in the world together in a candid would make our most popular list.

08. TOP 10 MOST ICONIC HORROR MOVIE VILLAINS! Our #5 most popular post for 2020 is our all-time #8 most popular post… and of course it’s horror.

07. Real Clown Or Horror-Movie Clown? This is creepy. Normally I don’t have a problem with clowns, but some of those real clowns were downright scary.

06. Joel Osteen in Jacksonville This has been popular one since it first appeared.

05. Steve Reeves as Superman Of course Steve Reeves never got the chance to play the Man of Steel, but if he had, he would have made a good one.

04. New Billy the Kid Photo Discovered This posts hits on crime and history with the chance of a new discovery. That’s a great combination of topics and popular with a lot of folks.

03. Zodiac Killer Code Cracked? Again we have crime, history, a new discovery and I would even argue horror to make for a popular post.

02. Louis Meyers: Evidence He Was the Zodiac Killer This was not only our #2 all-time favorite, but also the #2 favorite for 2020. And it generated quite a few comments and e-mails.

01. Schwarzenegger in “King Lear” & Robin Williams in “Jack and the Beanstalk”.01. Schwarzenegger in “King Lear” & Robin Williams in “Jack and the Beanstalk”. The #1 post for 2020 is also our #1 all-time favorite. 

It’s always interesting to see which topics resonate with fans and continue to be popular longer after the initial post.  I wonder how many of our all-time favorites will make the list in 2021?  Time will tell… and so will I…. next year!  

“My Name is Roscoe: The Life and Legacy of ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle” by Joe Ramoni

I love movies.  Because of my love of film I search out older movies.  Thanks to TCM that’s not as hard to do as it once was.  So whenever there’s an older film that I think I might like I check it out.

I’ve watched a lot of silent films.  I started with the horror films and then worked my way to comedies.  Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd are considered the comedy kings of the silent film era.  As I began to watch and learn more about this time period, I was surprised to find that funny man Fatty Arbuckle wasn’t better known.  The films I saw with him were as good as any other comedian of the time.

When I came to learn that Arbuckle was the first comedian to be paid one million dollars from a studio, that Arbuckle had mentored both Chaplin and Keaton, that he started his own studio, that he wrote and directed films… well, I needed to know more about this man.  What I discovered was pretty sad.

Joe Ramoni has created an excellent overview of Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle’s career.  It is worth a watch.

He mentored Charlie Chaplin, discovered Buster Keaton, and changed film comedy forever – before a scandal destroyed his career. His name was Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle. Though you may recognize his name or face, few know the heartbreaking story of his life. This documentary short takes a look back at his controversial life & career to highlight what an instrumental figure he was in the evolution of cinema and why he should be more remembered today.

Written, Compiled and Presented by Joe Ramoni
https://twitter.com/joeramoni

Source: Mark Evanier.

FBI Confirms Zodiac Killer’s Coded Message Deciphered! Message is Here!

The Zodiac Killer’s most unbreakable code has been broken by an international 3 man team consisting of David Oranchak (American computer programmer), Belgian computer programmer Jarl Van Eycke (Belgian computer programmer) and Sam Blake (Australian mathematician).  After countless hours and hundreds of thousands of computer simulations the team discovered an error in the Zodiac Killer’s transcription which led to them breaking the code.  The FBI has agreed with their solution and confirmed the code’s message.

The video below explains the process used to crack the code and is well worth watching.

On December 3rd, 2020, an international three-person team of codebreakers made a breakthrough with the Zodiac Killer’s unsolved 340-character cipher.

By December 5th, the team finished cracking the cipher and sent the solution to the FBI.

This is the full message from the Zodiac Killer that was hidden in the 340-character cipher for 51 years:

I HOPE YOU ARE HAVING LOTS OF FUN IN TRYING TO CATCH ME
THAT WASNT ME ON THE TV SHOW
WHICH BRINGS UP A POINT ABOUT ME
I AM NOT AFRAID OF THE GAS CHAMBER
BECAUSE IT WILL SEND ME TO PARADICE ALL THE SOONER
BECAUSE I NOW HAVE ENOUGH SLAVES TO WORK FOR ME
WHERE EVERYONE ELSE HAS NOTHING WHEN THEY REACH PARADICE
SO THEY ARE AFRAID OF DEATH
I AM NOT AFRAID BECAUSE I KNOW THAT MY NEW LIFE IS
LIFE WILL BE AN EASY ONE IN PARADICE DEATH

The members of the team that cracked the code are:
* Sam Blake (Australia)
* Jarl Van Eycke (Belgium)
* David Oranchak (USA)

This video is my attempt to tell the story of this long overdue breakthrough. More details are reported in Michael Butterfield’s article here: http://zodiackillerfacts.com/news-and…
Credits: Music: Dave Miles: Movement (ZapSplat:
https://www.zapsplat.com/author/dave-…)
“Thanks” animation:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l1whg… melissariveradesign.com Jim Dunbar show archival footage: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oTJI4…

Mentioned in the video:
AZDecrypt code breaking software by Jarl Van Eycke:
http://zodiackillersite.com/viewtopic…
Peek-a-boo cryptanalysis software by Heiko Kalista:
http://www.zodiackillersite.com/viewt…
Zkdecrypto by Brax Cisco et. al.:
https://code.google.com/archive/p/zkd…
Mike Morford’s Zodiac site: http://zodiackillersite.com
Michael Butterfield’s Zodiac site: http://zodiackillerfacts.com
Tom Voigt’s Zodiac site:
http://zodiackiller.com http://zodiackillerciphers.com

We dedicate these efforts to the victims of the Zodiac Killer, their families and descendants. We hope that one day justice will prevail.

Source: SFGate.

“FBI/MLK” – The Poster and Trailer are Here!

We have the poster and trailer for FBI/MLK.  I like them both and look forward to seeing the film.

Director: Sam Pollard
Starring: Martin Luther King

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is remembered today as an American hero: a bridge-builder, a shrewd political tactician, and a moral leader. Yet throughout his history-altering political career, he was often treated by U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies like an enemy of the state. In this virtuosic documentary, award-winning editor and director Sam Pollard (Editor, 4 LITTLE GIRLS, MO’ BETTER BLUES; Director/Producer, EYEZ ON THE PRIZE, SAMMY DAVIS, JR.: I’VE GOTTA BE ME) lays out a detailed account of the FBI surveillance that dogged King’s activism throughout the ’50s and ’60s, fueled by the racist and red-baiting paranoia of J. Edgar Hoover. In crafting a rich archival tapestry, featuring some revelatory restored footage of King, Pollard urges us to remember that true American progress is always hard-won.

“Truth is the Only Client: the Official Investigation of the Murder of John F. Kennedy” – The Poster & Trailer!

I really like the poster for Truth is the Only Client: the Official Investigation of the Murder of John F. Kennedy.  The trailer ain’t bad either.

I was five years old and on vacation with my grandparents in Miami when President Kennedy was assassinated.  Like the rest of the nation, my grandparents (and therefore me) were glued to the television watching updates on the murder of our President. Then a few days later, the man accused of taking the President’s life was himself murdered while surrounded by police officers.  Conspiracy theories abounded.

Growing up I was always intrigued by who actually killed President Kennedy.  Was it a lone gunman or were other groups involved.  I read the Warren Commission Report.  I read books and articles. I tuned in to shows and documentaries.  Ultimately I came to the conclusion that it was indeed, Lee Harvey Oswald acting alone, who killed President Kennedy.

But that doesn’t mean I won’t be looking forward to checking out  Truth is the Only Client: the Official Investigation of the Murder of John F. Kennedy. 

Trailer for the new documentary feature Truth is the Only Client: the Official Investigation of the Murder of John F. Kennedy, premiering November 17, 2020.